This past weekend, Dmitri, Cora and I hiked the Juan De Fuca Trail. It was Dmitri’s idea, and he recruited Cora earlier in the week. I tagged along for the trip because I was headed to Vancouver for graduation on Monday. I wanted to make the drive out from Vernon worthwhile. I was originally planning to go climbing in Squamish for the weekend, but the forecast threatened for rain.
On Friday, I met Dmitri on the 21:00 ferry sailing from Tsawwassen to Victoria. Cora was working in Victoria during the week, so we picked her up en route to the China Beach campground. That night, we camped at a campground in Jordan River. Jordan River is a surf kayaking venue and contrary to Dmitri’s expectations, the surf was relatively large that night.
On Saturday morning, we departed from China Beach. Dmitri was quite thorough in making sure that all of our valuables were out of sight. When I commented on this, he said that he hasn’t had his car broken into in 11 years of hiking and wants to keep it that way. The trail fee for the Juan de Fuca was $10/person/night, which we thought was really cheap compared to the ludicrous fee of $170/person to do the west coast trail.
Cora and Dmitri had heard the Juan de Fuca was quite intense, so we initially planned to do about 2/3 of the trail. We would camp at Chin beach (18km) the first night and Finish at Sombrio Beach (29km) on Sunday. Sombrio beach is a car camping beach, so we planned to hike to the parking lot and hitch hike back to the china beach parking lot.
Overall, we found the hiking very easy compared to the stories of the trail that Dmitri and Cora had heard. The first half of the trail had minimal mud, but was the most tiring since it is very hilly. When we arrived at the Chin beach campground it was only 16:00. We decided that it might actually be feasible to do the whole trail. We didn’t see anybody while hiking, but the Chin beach campground was packed! There were two highschool groups and a total of about 20-30 people camped when we arrived. This made our decision easy, we would keep hiking.
Our new plan was to hike to the Little Kutchie campground (33km) Saturday night. Sunday morning we would complete the trail at botanical beach (47km) and hitch-hike back to the car. The trail got progressively muddier as we passed Chin beach, but was always below gaiter level. The 10 km section around Sombrio beach was the prettiest part of the trail for me, but my opinion might have been biased due to the superior lighting close to sunset.
As we were hiking along Sombrio beach, one of the car campers made my day. He ran up to us and yelled, “Don’t stop hiking!” He produced 3 slices of watermelon. Just what we needed! We made it to the little Kutchie campground with just enough light. Cora was the only party member to succumb to using her headlamp for the last 200m.
As soon as we arrived at the campground, I offered Dmitri and Cora some of the 6 cans of beer that I lugged the whole 33km. I forgot that Beer contains Gluten, so Cora didn’t want any. Dmitri didn’t want any either. I drank 1 can and then left the rest in the bear cache for future campers… Hopefully they will enjoy it more than we did. It seems that I carried the extra 2.5kg for nothing. I didn’t have a pen to write a note with, so I ripped off pieces of my tuna helper box that said “FREE” and placed them on top of the cans.
The next day, we (Cora) were markedly less social. We were probably tired from the 33km we hiked on Saturday. The last 14km of the trail was easy, and we arrived at the end at 13:00. At the botanical beach parking lot, we met up with a volunteer (or minimally paid) security officer named Bill. Bill helped arrange for Dmitri to be driven back to the China beach Trail head by a party who was car shuttling. We claimed that Dmitri was our “smallest” and “least smelly” party member.
When Dmitri returned with the car, we found out that it had been broken into. Dmitri’s driver side door was pried open, and our valuables had been stolen from the car. Both Dmitri and I had lost our cell phones. We had left them in the car because there was no cell service for the duration of the trail. Cora was the worst off… She had lost her Wallet containing $300, her credit cards and ALL of her worldly personal identification. Fortunately, she had kept her cell phone for the trail to use as an alarm.
Disgruntled, we drove towards Sooke. A note had been left on Dmitri’s windshield telling him to stop by the RCMP office in Sooke. Along the way, Cora got cell phone service and recieved a text message which said that her wallet and cards had been recovered — We were very confused as to how the RCMP office got her phone number.
When we arrived at the RCMP office, we were given back a bunch of stuff that they had recovered. Apparently, the thieves had driven up a logging road and tossed every thing that they didn’t want. Thankfully, all of Cora’s ID and even her credit cards were recovered. Dmitri got a few receipts back, but was still missing a headlamp, garage door opener and other miscellaneous items.
In the end, Dmitri was the worst off. He has to go through ICBC to get his car door fixed. Since he works at an autobody repair shop he is all too familiar with the process. It would have been much simpler if the thieves had broken the window rather than pried open the door…. I managed to find a replacement iPhone on craigslist, and thanks to the iCloud backup, I didn’t lose all my contacts
In the end, Our Juan de Fuca trail experience ended up being more costly than the West Coast trail. It was a lot of fun despite having our car broken into.